Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Herald's Chicken: Waxing Eloquent About Nothing

This week's Hyde Park Herald (August 22, 2007) boasts examples of "no news is news," selective omission of relevant facts, and various other directives from the NIMBY corner. It was a tough several minutes finding the worst offender. We hope you will agree that the editorial, "A new day for Dr. Wax," is the winner by a nose.

We return to a tired story about the Dr. Wax used records store, which has run into financial difficulty. Earlier headlines trumpeted that Dr. Wax was being "forced out." This turns out not to be the case, or does it? The editorial hints that "Dr Wax will not be closing down." Dr. Wax will remain in Hyde Park, wink, wink. This sounds a bit more like a news story than an editorial. The reason it is not a news story is that even the Herald would be embarrassed to print such total speculation. The Herald can't cite any sources for their information about the future of Dr. Wax. It refuses to disclose the future location of Dr. Wax (if, indeed, they are moving).

After this half-hearted attempt to coax news from a rumor, the editorial returns to the well-worn conspiracy theory that Dr. Wax is being forced out by an unscrupulous and grasping Harper Court Foundation (HCF). What is the evidence for this? Dr. Wax owner Sam Greenberg decided that he was paying too much rent last year. He sent the HCF a letter suggesting that he be allowed to pay a lower rent. When "he got no reply," he began paying the lower rate. I think I'm going to try out this stratagem myself. My mortgage is really unconscionably high. I'm going to slip a note to GMAC mortgage asking to cut my mortgage payments to $50 per month. I expect that you will be able to buy a nice house in the "Golden Rectangle" in a few months.

The only shocking thing about this is that the HCF took more than a year to present Mr. Greenberg with a bill for back rent of $15,000. The Herald would have you believe that this is more evidence of a shifty and untrustworthy landlord. In fact, this shows that the HCF either a charitable organization or utterly incompetent. If it were my property, I would have evicted the tenant faster than you can say "Championship Vinyl."

The real crime committed by the HCF is their failure to "explain their behavior ... to the community." Here we should read, "to the Herald." Why should a private organization explain themselves to the community? What business is it of the Herald's how the HCF deals with deadbeats?

But yet again, the Herald drags out the conspiracy theory. It seems that the HCF must be preparing to sell off their property to an evil "developer." It is not clear why getting rid of tenants and allowing the property to run down helps maintain its value. But, suppose we accept the proposition that the HCF want to sell off their property to a developer who might build usable retail and residential spaces. Is this so awful? Something has to be done, Harper Court is at best a shell of what wasn't very good to begin with. Isn't that how a neighborhood adapts to changing demand?

The editorial now attempts to call the HCF to its noble past. "The ideas (sic) built into the brick and mortar of the place have a unique purpose." What is that "unique" purpose? According the Herald, it is to "help Hyde Park find businesses and services it needed." It seems that those ideals are engraved in every piece of retail property from McDonalds to the Hyde Park Bank building. What is so special about Harper Court? Again, the Herald weighs in with "to promote inexpensive space for creative entrepreneurs." Isn't everyone who succeeds in building a business in Hyde Park creative?

"We must redouble our vigilance" before the HCF pulls a fast one on us ends the editorial. If you mean, before the HCF foundation sells the run-down property and someone builds something we'd like to patronize, let 'em rip!


Famac said...

Let's see how far we get asking the Herald for a reduced rate advertising this blog.

chicago pop said...

Brilliant idea ... absolutely brilliant!

Elizabeth Fama said...

The fellow who started the Dr. Wax petition mentioned in a letter-to-the-Herald his nearly-1,600 signatures (from people as far away as Africa, who we can presume are no longer customers). Apparently the people who signed the petition left "heartfelt" messages about how the store "impacted their life."

Since not enough people are shopping there to keep it afloat, the people who signed the petition are essentially answering the question "Do you feel sentimental about Dr. Wax?"

It reminds me of the SAVE THE POINT petition, which essentially asked, "Do you love the Point?"

The only possible answer to that is, "Heck, yeah," but that "heartfelt" feeling wound up preventing its repair.

Famac said...

You could run that store better on eBay. I wonder if the guy is even doing that. Most comic stores keep their cashiers busy running auctions and packing shipments. At least that way, some money is coming in, and some inventory is moving out. Boutique hobbies like this get weaker and weaker as the medium fades. You have to sell nationally to stay afloat.

curtsy said...

Putting money where their mouth/heart is -- 10 bucks per signature and they could cover back rent! No, they like the "concept" of Dr. Wax existing but apparently unwilling/unable to financially support it sufficiently as consumers.

I am thinking of opening a buggy whip & typewriter repair shop in Harper Court myself.

Famac said...

Right next to my Young Republicans recruitment center.